Roastmaster General Jeff Ross brings speed roasting to the Tampa Improv (Video)

Rabid Nick: Mr. Ross, how is the Roastmaster General today?

Jeff Ross: It's a beautiful New York City day, and I'm feeling pretty good. Feeling that I'm lucky to be alive.

Fantastic. That is a great outlook on life for the guy they call the meanest man in comedy. You seem to have a pretty positive attitude.

I never agree with that though, with that nickname. I'm flattered by it because the people think the roasting's supposed to be mean, but it really comes from a place of affection, a loving place.

So you don't really see yourself as mean, it's just a part of the job?

Precisely, that's exactly how I feel. I feel like you gotta give people a little tough love once in a while.

Right, so how exactly does one become the Roastmaster General? Did you need to fill out and application and defecate on Betty White's chest?

(laughs) No, it's just a matter of doing the comedy clubs for years, and taking no prisoners and never apologizing. You earn it, you have to earn a title like that.

So it's kind of a big honor really?

I love it man, it's my little niche.

Are you looking forward to bringing your brand of vicious humor to the Sunshine State?

You know I love that Tampa club for some reason. People really come down there to party and I'm gonna be trying something new this time so, it's gonna be a bit of a social experiment that I've got a good feeling about.

Nice, you want to share a little of what that is with the Rabid One?

I'm gonna try bringing up volunteers from the audience for a speed roasting segment. I think it's gonna be pretty wild, without-a-net, punk rock comedy. If you're out there, wear your craziest outfit and come on stage.

That is awesome. Those people down there in Ybor are gonna eat that shit up.

I think it's gonna be pretty crazy.

[image-1]You've roasted the likes of Pamela Anderson, Joan Rivers, William Shatner and most recently David Hasselhoff. You're a pretty equal-opportunity offender. Is there anybody you wouldn't roast?

Wow, um, I don't think I would roast someone I didn't respect, or admire in some way. You know, I'm pretty careful to pick people that are good sports and people that I admire because I spend a lot of time on these roasts, it takes weeks to prepare for them properly and I've gotta prepare. I don't want to roast someone I don't care about. Someone once asked me to roast Mike Tyson and I was like, I just didn't see it.

So it really does come from a place of respect and from the heart, you delve into and research these people and you're really actually giving them respect, not cutting them down.

Well the whole trick is to make it work for you, it can't be bullying, you want everyone to leave the roast saying “oh my God, that was so much fun, I hope they roast me one day.” You want them to feel like they're at a party, not a beating. So I'm real careful with that kind of stuff.

Well, with that in mind, when the inevitable time comes, who do you want to roast you?

Wow, I don't think I could take it. I think I could roast myself, but I would cry at the end of it.

Well you're probably the perfect guy for it, I mean, who knows you better than you?

(laughs) No one's ever roasted themselves, that would be pretty good. I like that idea actually, I'm gonna put that together now.

I had the opportunity to see your film, Patriot Act, basically a home movie of your time entertaining our troops in Iraq with Drew Carey. Did that experience give you a new perspective on your role in the world as a comedian?

Oh my gosh, it just changed everything. It was just an eye opening experience. I had never been around the military. I have so much love and respect for the troops now, having gone over there. To see how diverse, and sophisticated, and what greet senses of humor they have under these awful conditions.

Did you have such trouble sleeping over there because you were worried Saddam and his cronies were gonna, ya know, roast you?

Yeah man, when you're chillin' in Saddam’s palace, it can get quite eerie, but in the end I think that we brought a lot of laughs, and a little bit of relief to the soldiers. But in the end I think I was the one that got the biggest moral boost for going there.

[image-2]It really seemed that way, and I'm really glad I had the opportunity to watch it while I was researching you, instead of just watching the roast material. To see something like that, I really did see the respect and the heart that goes into your work, so I'm glad I got to see that.

Aw, I appreciate you saying that, I really do.

What's next for the supposedly meanest man in comedy?

Well after Tampa, I'll hit Chicago, then plugging the paperback release of “I Only Roast the Ones I Love: Busting Balls without Burning Bridges” All the tricks to making fun of people are in there. You can do it to, these home grown roasts are becoming more and more popular, people roasting their friends for fun.

Now that we've had this time together, what would you say if you had to roast the Rabid One?

(laughs) I only roast celebrities, sorry buddy.

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If you've caught any of the celebrity roasts on Comedy Central, you know exactly who comedian Jeff Ross is. And if not, his performances at The Tampa Improv October 8 through 10th (get your tickets here) will appropriately introduce you to the "Roastmaster General". Rabid Nick Refer had the opportunity to go one on one with "the meanest man in comedy" and came out well roasted.

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